Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) has been shown to be highly responsive to chemotherapy. The major limiting toxicity was myelotoxicity. Recently, the role of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) in reducing chemotherapy-induced neutropenic sepsis has been well established. In this study, we tested whether recombinant human G-CSF (rhG-CSF) could effectively support the bone marrow function in both previously untreated and pretreated metastatic NPC patients receiving intensive chemotherapy. Twelve patients with distant metastatic disease, 5 newly diagnosed (group A) and 7 pretreated patients (group B), were enrolled to receive BEC (bleomycin, epirubicin and cisplatin), followed by rhG-CSF support (50 ¼g/m2 s.c. daily for 10 days) every 4 weeks for two cycles. Four patients in group A completed the treatment as scheduled while only 2 patients in group B did. After the first treatment cycle, 6 patients (50%) had grade III-IV myelosuppression. Five of the patients were from group B. The mean values of the white cell count nadir were 2,680 (range 1,200-3,700) in group A and 1,343 (range 400-2,900) in group B (p = 0.0386). Neutropenia-associated fever occurred in 7 patients, 6 of whom had received previous treatment. There were 2 deaths due to toxicity, and both patients had liver metastases within 6 months following radiation. After 24 months of follow-up, only 1 patient is still alive. Our preliminary results suggest that in previously treated metastatic NPC patients, bone marrow suppression is still the major limiting toxic side effect of aggressive chemotherapy, especially for those patients with liver recurrences within 6 months after irradiation and despite rhG-CSF support.
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